Review by Richard Sumrall
"Doctor Livingstone, I presume?"
With those immortal words,
newspaperman-turned-African-adventurer Henry Morton Stanley ended
one of the most extraordinary expeditions in history: the search for
legendary explorer Dr. David Livingstone.
In his new book "Into
Africa," author-adventurer Martin Dugard has written a fascinating
"truth is stranger than fiction" account of the lives of these two
men and the events leading up to their improbable meeting on Nov.
10, 1871. On that fateful day Livingstone, presumed lost in Africa
for approximately five years, was finally located in the Lake
Tanganyika shore town of Ujiji.
Although Stanley's motives were unknown
to the world during the search for Livingstone, he was actually
looking for the famed explorer while serving as a reporter under the
auspices of the New York Herald newspaper. This expedition was
concocted by the Herald's brilliant yet unpredictable publisher James
Gordon Bennett Jr. Serving at the behest of Bennett's scheme to
obtain the story of the decade, Stanley dutifully assembled an
expedition in Zanzibar in January 1871 to ascertain the fate of the
Livingstone's earlier African
expedition was one of many conducted in the latter half of the 19th
century with one goal in mind: to be the first person to locate,
identify and map the source of the mighty Nile River. The strenuous
nature of such exploration was the primary reason Livingstone's 1866
expedition exhausted itself of money, barter, porters and supplies
and left him abandoned in the heart of the African continent.
As worldwide concern grew regarding
Livingstone's fate, several rescue attempts were launched, most
notably those of the Royal Geographic Society in London. These
failed attempts partly fueled Bennett's desire to scoop the British
press and find Livingstone. It is this subsequent expedition and
Stanley's account of his search that makes for an incredible tale of
Stanley, a failure in several previous career attempts, was a rather
mediocre newspaper journalist who had no training in leading an
expedition into the uncharted wild. Despite this inexperience he
assembled a caravan and set out in search of the missing explorer.
[to top of second column in
his search Stanley encountered hostile native tribes, ferocious
beasts, poisonous plants, disease, Arab slave traders and near
starvation. In spite of insurmountable odds the man who began as an
American news reporter evolved into a determined expedition leader
who finally achieved the success that had eluded so many before him.
In a final ironic twist Livingstone
refused to return with Stanley, still determined to discover the
As Stanley returned to the West with Livingstone's
journals and letters (the proof that he had found the explorer),
Livingstone pressed on with his search. Regrettably his failing
heath, combined with a lack of funding, again brought his quest to a
halt. Livingstone died in Africa on May 1, 1873, from complications
related to his adventurous life.
Stanley, transformed by his own African
experience, returned to the continent in 1874 to fulfill a promise
made to Livingstone to seek the source of the Nile River. Like
Livingstone he was unsuccessful, and, following an illustrious
career as an explorer, he died on May 10, 1904.
According to the author it would be
almost a century later that the true source of the Nile River was
discovered. Using satellite photography it was finally determined
that the Nile's waters emanate from the ground high in the mountains
of Burundi between Lakes Tanganyika and Victoria.
Africa" is part history, part biography and all adventure. Dugard's
meticulous research captures the history of the two expeditions and
the respective men who led them. His vivid description of an Africa
that is both beautiful and terrifying documents the awe-inspiring
grandeur of the world's last great unexplored land. This book is
highly recommended for anyone who enjoys history, biography or
[Richard Sumrall, Lincoln
Public Library District]